IGA fight not over yet
KYOGLE Council may face a legal challenge to its decision to allow historic Art Deco-style buildings to be demolished, with resident and council candidate Damien Paull seeking advice from the Environmental Defender's Office.
Mr Paull said he had received advice from the Environmental Defender's Office which says council may have 'failed to consider relevant factors' when approving the development application for an IGA supermarket in Kyogle's main street.
Mr Paull is trying to find a lawyer willing to take the case to the NSW Land and Environment Court on a pro bono basis.
“These things cost upward of $10,000 and I just don't have the money to fund it myself,” he said.
“I don't think a citizen should have to be trying to get together this kind of money just to ensure the council does the right thing with heritage matters.”
Mr Paull said any claim in the Land and Environment Court must be lodged within three months of the date of council approval.
“Time is running out. I have until the end of September before it's too late,” he said.
Mr Paull said he would do whatever he could to try and protect the buildings.
“I may not win, but I will give the developers a run for their money,” he said.
Solicitor Sue Higginson from the Environmental Defender's Office said that while she had not seen the whole of the council file, from a preliminary perspective it appeared the council had failed to meet its obligation to consider a number of factors.
Ms Higgins said it was clear the council had not fully considered the heritage aspect of the buildings when assessing the development application by AusDevelopments, of the Gold Coast.
“The council appears to have cast aside the heritage report they commissioned, in which the buildings were identified as historically significant,” she said.
“The heritage issue is not negligible and it is an expert's role and council are not qualified to make decisions about it,” she said.
The council may have also failed to consider the social and environmental impacts of the development.
“There doesn't seem to be any proper and genuine consideration of the impact of removing this heritage building,” Ms Higgins said.
“It seems these factors were absent from the planner's report.”
Ms Higgins said there were certain factors which the council must consider in every development application.
“If the process has not been followed than any decision made is null and void,” she said.